Common Mistakes: Replacing the Father’s Name or the Family Name

In the Name of Allaah, the Most Merciful, the Ever Merciful…

A common mistake made in the West is when new Muslims are instructed to change their family names, or to change, replace, or abandon their fathers’ names. For example, a new Muslim named “Joe Smith”, whose father’s name is Michael, may be advised to change his name to “Abdullaah Muhammad al-Amreekee”. Often, without the right guidance, a new Muslim may be inclined against his family’s name and want to free himself of it. He may even feel this is required or encouraged in Islam!

In reality, from the most basic human needs preserved in all the divine religions throughout history is the preservation of the people’s ancestry. Islam, as the culmination of all previous revelations, gives this matter the utmost urgency, as our Lord orders us:

ادْعُوهُمْ لِآبائِهِمْ هُوَ أَقْسَطُ عِنْدَ اللَّهِ

“Call them by their fathers’ (names), it is more just with Allaah” [33:5]

A Muslim is required to keep his father’s name, as well as his family name. This Islaamic manner of naming is so important that the Messenger of Allaah (may Allaah raise his rank and grant him peace) warned those who replace their fathers’ names with a very serious consequence:

مَنِ ادَّعَى إِلَى غَيْرِ أَبِيهِ، وَهُوَ يَعْلَمُ أَنَّهُ غَيْرُ أَبِيهِ، فَالْجَنَّةُ عَلَيْهِ حَرَامٌ

“Whoever ascribes himself to someone other than his (real) father, knowing that he is not his (real) father, Paradise is forbidden for him!” [al-Bukhaaree and Muslim]

We see clearly that changing one’s name in a way that replaces the father’s and/or family’s names with other names is absolutely forbidden, and we must not mislead new Muslims into major sins that harm their family relationships and alienate them from their parents and immediate family members. Accepting Islaam within a non-Muslim family often comes with a long list of very difficult personal challenges. A new Muslim often opposes the core religious views of his closest family members. In the middle of this, an unnecessary and impermissible name just makes matters more difficult and misrepresents the Religion.

If “Joe Smith” wants to be called “Abdullaah” – that’s fine!  He can simply call himself ‘Abdullaah Smith, or ‘Abdullaah ibn Michael Smith al-Amreekee. But he is not allowed to hide or change the name of his father.

NOTE: Calling himself “‘Abdullaah al-Amkreekee” sometimes does not mean that he is hiding his family name or his father’s name. The problem is when he tells people not to call him “Smith” or “ibn Michael”. Now he stands in opposition to Allaah’s Legislation.

Question: What if the father’s name has a meaning that is against Islaam, or he is not happy with the history and heritage of his family?

Answer: We have the best guidance in the Messenger of Allaah (may Allaah raise his rank and grant him peace), whose grandfather, ‘Abdul-Muttalib, was THE name in polytheism. Idol worship at the Kabah in Makkah was widely referred to as “the religion of ‘Abdul-Muttalib”. Our Messenger (may Allaah raise his rank and grant him peace) hated polytheism and freed himself of it from the beginning of his mission to his last moments, yet his name remained, as he used to say openly:

أَنَا النَّبِيُّ لاَ كَذِبْ، أَنَا ابْنُ عَبْدِ المُطَّلِبْ

“I am the Prophet, no lie; I am the (grand)son of ‘Abdul-Muttalib.” [al-Bukhaaree and Muslim]

Shaykh ‘Abdul-‘Azeez ibn Baaz (may Allaah have Mercy on him) was asked about a person whose father had an objectionable name, and he replied that the name of the father remains as is (as part of the son’s name). [Click here for Arabic audio and transcript.]

Question: But I thought Muslims are to change bad names to good ones…!?

Answer: Yes, this is an established Islaamic manner. However, let’s make a difference between your name and other people’s names. You are allowed – maybe even recommended or obliged in some cases – to change your name. However, your father is another person. If he is alive, perhaps you could convince him to change his own name. However, if he has passed or refuses to change his name, then you continue to ascribe to him as he is/was known.  The proof is again the example of our Messenger (may Allaah raise his rank and grant him peace), who continued to refer to himself Ibn ‘Abdil-Muttalib, while names of ta’beed (“Abdul-___”) are not permissible except with Allaah’s Names, by established scholarly consensus.

Question: What if the new Muslim had been born out of wedlock (from fornication or adultery)?

Answer: If his mother was a married woman at the time of his birth, then he is ascribed to her husband, whether he is the “biological” father or not.  This is the verdict of the Messenger of Allaah (may Allaah raise his rank and grant him peace), when he said:

الولد للفراش

“The child belongs to the bed (i.e. the mother’s husband) [al-Bukhaaree and Muslim]

Similarly is the case of a woman who got married with a false and invalid marriage contract (thinking it to be correct at the time). This child is considered to be from his mother’s husband as well. Rules of naming, inheritance, maintenance, etc. are all based on this, according to the majority of the scholars.

If he was born to an unwed, divorced, or widowed woman, then he is not to be ascribed to the biological father, rather he ascribes himself to his mother.

The Permanent Committee of Scholars in Saudi Arabia, headed by Shaykh ‘Abdul-‘Azeez ibn Baaz, stated:

What is most correct from the positions held by the scholars is that a child (of fornication) does not ascribe to the fornicator (the biological father), unless the intercourse took place based upon a valid contract (which would not be fornication), or an invalid one (that was thought to be valid at the time), or a mistakenly assumed marriage…

…In such cases the lineage is established through the father, and they mutually inherit from one another. Otherwise, when the intercourse was (purely) fornication, the illegitimate child is not considered the son of the fornicator (the biological father), nor does he ascribe to him. Thus, he does not inherit from him either.

Source: Fatwaa Collection of the Permanent Committee (20/387). In another similar verdicts, they stated clearly that the child born out of wedlock is ascribed to his mother. (20/389, 20/391).

Additional Encouragement

When we hear of a Muslim named “‘Abdullaah Smith” we rejoice, because it is a sign that Islaam is spreading. It is great news that every Muslim loves to hear. So don’t be ashamed of the non-Muslim family names and hide them, instead use them to spread good news to your brothers and sisters!

Recommendation for Official Documents

It can be very confusing when a person from the West travels to the Middle East where the Islaamic naming system is in place, and people named ‘Abdullaah Muhammad are understood to be ‘Abdullaah, the son of Muhammad.  In the West, there exists a “middle name” which is usually not the name of the person’s father. As Muslims, we can use this middle name in an Islaamic way, by naming our children according to the Islaamic system of naming. How is that? ‘Abdullaah ibn Michael Smith can name his son:

FIRST: ‘Abdur-Rahmaan
MIDDLE: Ibn-Abdillaah (or “Bin-Abdillaah”)
LAST: Smith

He could also name his daughter:

FIRST: Aaishah
MIDDLE: Bint-Abdillaah
LAST: Smith

However, for the purpose of international travel, he should change his name on his official documents, lest he is asked, “So Joe, where is Abdullaah, the father of your wife’s children?”

It is hoped that this information is beneficial and it helps keep the Muslms properly implement the Islaamic system of names in their lives.

And Allaah knows best.

Written by: Moosaa Richardson

105 thoughts on “Common Mistakes: Replacing the Father’s Name or the Family Name

  1. BaarakAllaahu ‘alaikum.

    You quoted the Permanent Committee – may Allaah preserve it – as stating: “… Otherwise, when the intercourse was (purely) fornication, the illegitimate child is not considered the son of the fornicator (the biological father), nor does he ascribe to him.”

    However, your statement: “If his mother was a married woman at the time of his birth, then he is ascribed to her husband, whether he is the “biological” father or not.” – seems to imply that if the intercourse took place out of wedlock but then the woman gave birth after the man and woman (who participated in fornication) got married, then the son would be rightfully ascribed to the man. This, to me, seems to go against the statement of the Committee quoted above since the child was a result of pure fornication even in this case, right?

    I would appreciate if you could bring some more light to this issue. Jazaakumullaahu khayraa.

    Saadiq.

    • Marriage to a pregnant woman is baatil (invalid). What is being referred to is a married woman having a child from alleged adultery.

  2. Baaraka Allaah feeka,
    What do you advise with respect to women who got married and for the sake of official purpose they are required to change their last name to their husband’s last name. This is a common practice in Nigeria. Others tries to use compound name instead as their surname, example; if she bears Hafsah AbdulHakeem and she is married to say Abdullaah Umar. She becomes Hafsah AbdulHakeem-Umar after marriage. Is this right?
    Jazaaka Allaah khairah

    • May Allaah help the Muslims in Nigeria to recognize the evils of following the West in how they change the wife’s family name to the name of the husband. This is based on the practice of the non-Muslims who considered themselves owners of their wives (like slave owners), so the women became the husband’s property and lost their family names. The hadeeth applies to women who (willfully) change their father’s names – they will be forbidden from entering Paradise, along with the sin of imitating the non-Muslims. If she has been forced to do it against her will, then the sin is on those who are forcing her to do this. This is a basic human right, which – when ignored – causes widespread confusion and corruption.

      • As salaamu alaykum,

        The changing of a woman’s last name to her husband’s last name is a common practice here in the Netherlands too eventhough it is not compulsary.

        Do you perhaps know of a specific fatwa from the scholars on this subject? Have been searching for one for a long time but wasn’t able to find it.

        And what some people do is keep their father’s last name and add their husband’s last name.
        For instance the woman’s family name is ‘Smith’, the husband’s name ‘Miller’. The wife officially takes the name ‘Smith-Miller’.
        Does this also fall under changing the last name?

        • wa ‘alaykis-salaamu wa rahmatullaah…

          What is in your first question is a violation of Allaah’s direct and explicit order in the Quran, which leads to neglect of one of the most important basic human rights (the preservation of accurate lineage). Furthermore, it is an impermissible act of imitating the disbelievers.

          The Permanent Committee of Scholars in Saudi Arabia headed by Shaykh Ibn Baaz was asked about this exact issue, and their official verdict was published in their fatwaa collection (20/378): “It is not permissible for a person to ascribe to other than his father. Allaah the Most High says (what means): “Call them by their fathers’ (names); it is more just with Allaah.” [33:5] And a severe threat (of punishment) is for those who ascribe to other than their fathers. Thus, it is not permissible for a woman to ascribe to her husband’s name, as is the custom of the disbelievers and those Muslims who imitate them.”

          As for referring to a woman as “the wife of So-and-So”, then this is permissible (with texts in the Book and the Sunnah to back it up). However, it may not become her real family name and thus transcend into her lineage, and Allaah knows best.

    • As salaamu alaykum,

      May allaah bless you moosa. i am a revert from the uk and my father’s surname is Mcleish. after researching the meaning behind this name i have found this name to mean son of the servant of jesus which constitutes clear kufr and shirk. After reading some of the beneficial articles you have posted jazaakallaahu khairaa i see it a must to keep the father’s surname in islam.

      correct? baarakallaahu feek

      • wa ‘alaykas-salaamu wa rahmatullaah. You must keep your family name as part of your father’s name, even if the meaning is not permissible. Like our Messenger (may Allaah raise his rank and grant him peace): Muhammad ibn ‘Abdillaah ibn ‘Abdil-Muttalib. ‘Abdul-Muttalib (the slave/servant of al-Muttalib) is not allowed as a name, since “al-Muttalib” is not established as a Name of Allaah. Yet, our Messenger (may Allaah raise his rank and grant him peace) did not alter his name, he even said: ( أنا النبي لا كذب أنا ابن عبد المطلب ) “I am the Prophet, no lie, I am the (grand)son of ‘Abdul-Muttalib.” [al-Bukhaaree & Muslim] Names are kept as they are for the sake of lineage remaining known, a basic human right. And Allaah knows best.

  3. This article is well overdue, may Allah reward you with good. I heard an African American brother once saying something to the affect that this doesn’t apply to African Americans, because the last name was the slave owners name, please shed light on this.

    • Islam is for kings and slaves. Allaah guides us to recognize our family histories and what we have been through. Slaves throughout history, Muslim and non-Muslim alike have kept their slave owners’ names, calling themselves in Arabic “Mowlaa Fulaan”. The word “Mowlaa” means “Freed slave of” and “Fulaan” would be the name of the former slave owner. The world recognizes that African Americans have been through a very brutal and inhumane, unjustifiable deviation of slavery, and they have every right to seek out their true heritage. Embracing one’s more distant heritage does not mean that we have to erase or disown our more recent history, and Allaah knows best.

  4. As salaamu alaikum. Barakallahu feek. Whats the case of the Muslim who was adopted at birth and given the name of his adoptive parents and has no knowledge of his biological parents at all.

    • wa ‘alayk as-salaamu wa rahmatullaah…

      فَإِنْ لَمْ تَعْلَمُوا آباءَهُمْ فَإِخْوانُكُمْ فِي الدِّينِ وَمَوالِيكُمْ وَلَيْسَ عَلَيْكُمْ جُناحٌ فِيما أَخْطَأْتُمْ بِهِ وَلكِنْ مَا تَعَمَّدَتْ قُلُوبُكُمْ وَكانَ اللَّهُ غَفُوراً رَحِيماً

      “And if you do not know their fathers, then (they are) your brothers in the Religion or your freed slaves. There is no harm on you regarding past mistakes, however, what your hearts intend (is what you are accountable for). And Allaah is All-Forgiving, All-Merciful.” [33:5].

      For official paperwork, Shaykh Ibn Baaz gave a fatwaa regarding a similar case, an orphan whose parents were not known, how is he to be named? He said to name him the son of ‘Abdullaah, or any name like that ‘Abdul-____, and the same for the grandfather’s name when there is a need to register him for school. He added that it would be safer to name him the son of “‘Atiyyah” or “Hibatullaah” as these names are used for both males and females.

      Source: http://www.binbaz.org.sa/mat/19607

      Our Shaykh ‘Ubayd al-Jaabiree gave a similar fatwaa that I remember.

      • As-salaamu alaykum wa rahmatullaahi wa barakaatuh,

        Is it possible for you to clarify the different types of orphans?

        A common explanation restricts a child being an orphan to the death of both parents or the father before puberty. From reading this post it seems perhaps there are other circumstances that cause a child to be considered an orphan islamically. Is this a correct understanding?

  5. What if a brother married a women while she was pregnant, and was ignorant of the ruling. Then later on had children with this women. Does the child take his fathers name?

    • There is no marriage to a pregnant woman. Shaykh Ibn Baaz explains: http://www.binbaz.org.sa/mat/19376 (Arabic) As for your question, then a fatwaa should be sought for the specific case, because there was something that they thought was a marriage, and some of the scholars mention the possibility of ascribing to the father from an invalid marriage thought to be valid, as mentioned in the article above, and Allaah knows best.

      • BaarakAllaahu ‘alaik.

        Please what is meant by “فراش” in the hadeeth and the explanation of Shaykh ibn Baaz – rahimahullaah:

        “(الولد للفراش وللعاهر الحجر). فالولد لأمه إذا كانت ليست فراش، فإن كانت فراشاً فالولد لزوجها”

        JazaakAllaahu khayraa.

  6. as-Salaamu ‘aleykum wa rahmatullaah,
    Is it allowed to change names from birth, eventhough you are born muslim if the name has meanings like “Winner”? I just heard from muslims this is not allowed. I dont liek my name because of the meaning it has.

  7. Salaamun alaikum,
    When I became Muslim, in my ignorance, I changed my name from Ronald Phillips to Ronald Ali. As I now know better, I sign myself as Ronald Ali ibn George Phillips.
    Is it required of me, is it obligatory, is it a must that I change my name back from Ali to Phillips..?
    Barak Allaahu feekum

  8. assalamu alaykum. i changed my name from a pagan first name to an islamic one. both my parents and all of my family accept it. i made my middle name ibn Marcus. and my last name Abdallah. Marcus is my fathers first name. is this permissible? also i have 3 generations of muslims on my mother’s side of my family. the oldest member being 80 years old. he changed his last name to Al Ghani. how do i advise him/them that this was wrong? especially when about 30 members of my family carry this name?

  9. Salaam Alaykum,

    May Allah reward you for answering these questions so thoroughly.

    What about the case of a non-Muslim woman who takes the name of her husband, then they convert to Islam years later. Does she have to change her name back to that of her father?

    Jazakallahu khayran.

    • wa ‘alaykas-salaamu wa rahmatullaah.

      I am not able to talk about the Islamic ruling on registering name changes with non-Muslim governments. However, she must be known as “the daughter of So-and-So (her real father’s name)”, ascribed to her own family, not her husband’s (as part of her name). This is based on the clear Quranic order mentioned. And Allaah knows best.

  10. Assalamu Alaikum,

    What about calling short names or nick names ?

    Jazak ALLAHU khairan

    Shamaz Mohammed

    • wa ‘alaykas-salaamu wa rahmatullaah. Thanks for your question, Shamaz. This discussion is about official full names, not nicknames. Nicknames are all permissible in general, so long as the meaning is good, not excessive, and no offense or injury is caused.

  11. A brother recently asked me: i have my mothers madien name as my last name. My parnets were never married.. do i keep my mothers last name or do i change the last name to my biogiocal fatrher i.e. john abdullah or john cythania blue or john bill brown

    in addition, is it correct to change my first name from john to yahya
    i just want to be identifed as muslim by name.
    barakallah u fika

  12. As’salamualaikum Brother Moosa.
    If I choose not to indicate/register my daughter’s name with my name(e.g Hafsah binti so xxxxx), will it be an offense in the Deen? Can I just name her ‘Hafsa’ only?
    Jazakallahu khair Brother.

  13. the ‘Family Name’ system is the type adopted by Nigerians. Is it then permissible for me to adopt my father’s first name instead of his family name.

  14. As salaam Alaikum wa ramatullilah I’m an American born and “revert” muslimah my name is not the name of my father, it is of my grandmothers husband (not my mothers biological dad but he was married to my grandma, thus my mother took his name and in turn gave it to me) reading the comments and responses I’m wondering should change my last name to my fathers name even though he’s not muslim he is alive, and even before I accepted this beautiful deen I wanted to have his last name! Jazakallah khairun

    • wa ‘alayk as-salaamu wa rahmatullaah. Your name includes your father’s name in Islam, your name is “Anonymous” ibn (or bint) FATHER’S NAME, and the family name that you both are known for. If it is possible for you to change your name legally to show this, then may Allaah make it easy for you to do so. And Allaah knows best.

  15. As-salaamu ‘alaykum. Who does a convert to Islaam who’s parents were not married when he/she was born inherit from? Is the father recognised as a zaani and therefore not inherited from?

    Baarakallaahu feek.

  16. As Salaam Alaikum

    I have taken my Shahadah sometime ago and have been considering changing my name. I understand I am to keep my fathers name as well. The name Fahmi Billah appeals to me. My birth name is James Lanham Jr. What would the proper way be for me to use this name along with my fathers name Isalmically or is this allowed. May Allah bestow knowledge on this matter.

    • wa ‘alaykas-salaamu wa rahmatullaah.

      May Allaah bless you, dear brother. Why not consider the most beloved names to Allaah (‘Abdullaah and ‘Abdur-Rahmaan), or the names of the most beloved people to Allaah, the Prophets (Ibraaheem, Nooh, Moosaa, ‘Eesaa, Muhammad, etc.) and the Companions (Aboo Bakr, ‘Umar, ‘Uthmaan, ‘Alee, al-Hasan, al-Husayn, Talhah, Sa’d, ‘Ammaar, etc.)?

      “Fahim” (not Fahmi), pronounced (and spelled also) “Faheem” has a good meaning, “a person of understanding”. While many Muslims have the name Fahmi, I do not know “Fahmi” to be a real Arabic word (in authentic Arabic). Nor do I understand how the second word would fit into the construction. If you meant, “someone knowledgeable about Allaah” then ‘Abdullaah is a much better choice, as the true ‘abd (worshipper) of Allaah worships Him upon a high level of awareness and knowledge.

      Or consider a name that is “mu’abbad” (denoting your servitude to Allaah), using one of Allaah’s Names, like: ‘Abdul-‘Aleem (servant of the All-Knowing).

      Remember, when a person takes a name for himself that includes praiseworthy attributes (like Faheem), he does so hoping that Allaah would bless him with that attribute, not claiming to fulfill the meaning of the name. And Allaah knows best.

  17. Asalamualaikkum,

    My name in my passport used to be Rizwan Ahmed and my family name is Sattoli. I wanted to add my family name after me and changed it to only Rizwan Sattoli. Reading the comments above, I am now confused.. Ahmed is my father’s name. I went through a lot of process to get it changed. Now would you recommend me to change my name again? If so, could you kindly let me know what it should be that pleases Allah?

    Also my wife’s name is Safeena champad and we were thinking of adding my name after her( Safeena Rizwan). Champad is her family name (not father’s name) and she never had her father’s name after her in any document which is Kasim (negligence, may be).. Now, Is it permissible for me to add my name after her, which will eventually be Safeena Rizwan or leave the way as it is, i.e Safeena Champad.

    • wa ‘alaykas-salaamu wa rahmatullaah.

      Rizwan [bin] Ahmad is correct, and Rizwan Sattoli is correct as well. Neither name ascribes you to someone who is not your father.

      Your wife’s name “Safeena Champad” is correct, if “Champad” is her father’s family name. Safeena [bint] Kasim is also correct. However, you must avoid the non-Muslims’ custom of changing the wife’s family name to the husband’s name. She must not change her name to “Safeena Rizwan,” as you have nothing to do with her name, and Allaah knows best.

      • As Salaamu alaikum

        Is it correct to put “bin/bint (fulaan)” on your official documents, as your last name?

        Also, if your father’s first (like this brother did) name is one of Allaah’s names, do you also have to put “Abd” in front of it?

        • Wa ‘alayk as-salaamu wa rahmatullaah. If a woman’s name is Khadeejah and her father’s name is Muhammad Smith for example, then I would recommend the following way of usage of the first, middle, and family (last) names:
          FIRST: Khadeejah
          MIDDLE: Bint-Muhammad
          LAST: Smith

          And the question about Allaah’s Names depends on which names… Names that are shared like Azeez and Hakeem for example, the ‘abd- is optional, as people are allowed to be referred to with those names. However, with names exlusive to Allaah, like Allaah, as-Samad, al-Jabbaar, ar-Rahmaan, etc., such names for people must be prefixed with “Abd-” (the servant of). And Allaah knows best.

  18. As-salaamu alaykum.

    Do reverts whose parents were not married have to change their surnames if they have their fathers family name? And must they stop using his lineage? I.e. “al-Amreekee, al-Misree” etc.

  19. Are we allowed to write our husbands name, like if the husband name is farhan khan, can we write fatima farhan khan when we give gift to someone as it is a common practise in our culture to write as mentioned above when giving gifts to someone specifically on their weddings?

    • Sure, just write “the Wife of”, or in Arabic: ( امرأة فلان ) or ( زوج فلان ), Fatima, the wife of Farhan.

      However, “Fatima Farhan” would mean to many people: Fatima, the daughter of Farhan, so avoid that please.

  20. As Salaam Alaikum,
    I’m a revert from UK who would like clarity, insha’Allaah, regarding a word (‘divorced’) used in the sentence “If he was born to an unwed, divorced, or widowed woman,” in the article: “Common Mistakes: Replacing the Father’s Name or the Family Name,”
    Does this apply only to divorced women who have committed zinaa or also to married women who did NOT commit zinaa but were divorced for other reasons (none sexual) before there baby was born? So, if the baby is born after divorce & ex husband is the biological father, whose name those the baby take, is it the fathers name or the mothers?
    It seemed obvious untill i read that sentence.
    Jazaakumullaahu khayraa.

  21. My son’s name is Nabhan Ahmed and mentioned only as such in records like birth certificates, not followed by his father’s name along with his name explicitly. Is that an incorrect way of naming?

    Please advice.

  22. As- Salaamu ‘alaykum Moosaa,

    May Allah preserve You upon his Obedience and reward you with the Good For Your Conveying The works of our Salafee ‘Ulamaa .

    I was a child born out of wedlock given my biological Father’s name. I am Now Trying to Change my name to that of my Mother’s as this is what The evidence you relayed from Ahlul-‘ilm indicated and would like some advice concerning it. Do you write the full name of Your mother in identification just like that of the father in the article above or do you just write The Surname?

    BaarakAllaahu Feek

  23. Assalam mu’alaykum warahmatullahi wabarakahtuh ya Akh Moosa.

    Barakallahu feekum for your efforts in clearing doubts of the muslimin.
    I have a question. Im a chinese muslim. I bear my family’s name, “Tan”. But it is not my father’s name. My father is a revert and his muslim name is Aidil Tan. Must i take on his name or should i just retain our family name?

    Another question.
    It is very common in my country that, many muslims are getting pregnant due to fornicating. Allahu mustaan. as for a female child, if her parents got married after her birth, what must the child be named and who will be her wali when she reaches maturity and wishes to nikah.

    Jazakallahu khayr.

    • wa ‘alaykas-salaamu wa rahmatullaahi wa barakaatuh.

      Name yourself according to your father’s name, as Allaah orders us in the Quran ( ادعوهم لآبائهم ) [33:5]. However, refer to your father in the same way. Meaning: You are Fulaan [your first name] ibn Aidil Tan ibn Fulaan [Your father’s father’s name]. You may also combine any family name your father started with your grandfather’s family name. All of these things have examples in the lives of the Salaf. And Allaah knows best.

  24. As Salaamu alaykum,

    I am a bit confused by the Fatwaa of the permanent committee:

    1. If a child is born to a widowed woman, then he takes her name yet our Prophet (Sall Allaahu alayhi wa Sallam) is ascribed to his father?

    2. Similarly if a woman was pregnant and then her husband divorced her and so her iddah is her pregnancy, once she delivers is the child not ascribed to the father? Similarly if the Kuffaar divorce a woman mid pregnancy then when the child is born who is he ascribed to? What if mid term that woman marries another kaafir man?

    Also the fatwa says:

    If his mother was a married woman at the time of his birth, then he is ascribed to her husband, whether he is the “biological” father or not

    So is it that if a woman got pregnant and then somewhere in the 9 months she married a man other than the biological father then the child upon delivery is ascribed to whom?

    I hope you can help clear the confusion.

    Jazaak Allaahu khayran

    WasSalaam

    Adil Zargar

  25. Asalamu-Alaikum,

    I have a question regaring my son’s name .
    I want to keep his name as Hamza but however my name is Syed Ahsan Hussain.
    So how can i keep his name ?

  26. Asalamu-Alaikum,

    My relatives parents have kept her name as shujata begum Her father name is shamsu miah
    The question is is shujata begum a Muslim name? She feels it isn’t searched also and can’t find no name as a Muslim name.. Now she has changed her name to Aysha akhtar.. Is that wrong of her to do? Most of her family still calls her by the name given to her by her father. She is confused please can any one help with this query

  27. Asalaamu alykum. May Allaah bless you with good Ameen.

    I would be ever so grateful if you can assist me as I have been unsure about this issue for sometime.

    When I accepted Islam I was unaware of the ruling and changed my first name and surname to a muslim name. However now that I am aware is it an obligation upon me to change my surname back to my father’s name and family name?

    BaaraakAllaah feek.

  28. As-Salaamu alaykum wa Rahmatullahi wa Barakatu,

    If someone was conceived whilst his/her parents were unmarried, but born after his/her parents married, do they take the name of their father or mother?

    Secondly, if a man denies that a child is his, even if there’s no other possibility, what name does the child take?

    May Allah reward you with the good of this life and the good of the hereafter.

    • Wa ‘alaykas-salaamu wa rahmatullaahi wa barakaatuh.

      1) The marriage is invalid, as a pregnant woman is not eligible for marriage. Thus, the child takes the name of the mother (or some anonymous name like Abdullah), [Child’s name] ibn [Mother’s name], or …ibn ‘Abdillaah.

      2) If a married man denies the child, the child still ascribes to him, unless he ends the marriage with a mulaa’anah procedure. Then the child is considered a child of zinaa and ascribes to his/her mother or an anonymous male name, like ‘Abdullaah. (See Quran 24:6-9)

      And Allaah knows best.

      • As-salaamu ‘alaykum akh Moosaa.

        Regarding your (above) response;

        1) You mentioned that as a result of an invalid marriage (consequently resulting in zinaa) the children born out of that (situation) may take an anonymous name. Do Ahl al-‘Ilm restrict this name to ‘Abdillaah and its like or would it be acceptable to use any permissible male name? (e.g. …ibn ‘Umar)

        2) Does all of that which is found in your response to Michael’s question apply to parents who were in a state of disbelief at the time of having committed zinaa?

        Baarak Allaahu feek.

  29. Assalamualaikum Warahmatullahi Wabarakatuh,
    Indeed very nice article and well explained. Jazak Allaahu khairaa.

    As far as the subject of this article is concerned it is usually intending for (New Muslims – “Common Mistakes: Replacing the Father’s Name or the Family Name”) however I think you mean to say it applies to any Muslim name. I would like to highlight in India we don’t follow this practice of placing father’s name in child name.
    Being Indian, what I have found the followings are the Common mistakes of Indian Muslim Names:

    – The father’s name is not included while naming the baby.
    – The name is kept without realizing the meaning and characteristics of the name.

    Please shed some lights on this.

    Baarak Allaahu feek.

  30. Asalamu alaikum wa rahmatullah

    Brother Moosaa I need your help on this very urgent issue in sha Allah. Firstly is this fatwa translated by you and does it apply here???

    http://www.salafitalk.net/st/viewmessages.cfm?Forum=10&Topic=1460

    Okay so the issue is I plan to marry this sister soon here in Philadelphia in sha Allah, It came to my mind that she was born out of wedlock when her biological father was in his pre Islam. Basically her biological father and mother had intercourse at the ages of about 13-16, at birth the daughter took the last name of the biological father. The biological father has accepted Islam alhumdulilah since the age of his early twenties and gave the daughter her shahadah at the age of 8 and has raised her. He’s claimed her since birth and claims that’s what happened before his Islam and his accepting Islam would erase that in sha Allah. The question now is, is she attributed to be his daughter??? and can he marry her off at this stage in her life now she is about 22???

    • Wa ‘alaykas-salaamu wa rahmatullaah. If they were known as father and daughter as they came into Islaam, then that relationship is accepted as is, and it is not investigated. This is based on the general interactions of the Prophet (sallallaahu ‘alayhe wa sallam) with the Companions coming to Islaam from Jaahiliyyah, and he did not investigate their previous relationships. This was taught to me by Shaykh Muhammad ‘Umar Baazmool (may Allaah preserve him). And Allaah knows best.

  31. As-salam alaykum wa rahmatulahi brother

    I am married but I did not take my husband’s name but my question is in regards to the name of my children. For example if the name of their father is John Smith is it permissible for the child to be called Bow Smith. As this is the case with my son. If it’s not permissible what should i do.

    Jazakallahu khairan

    • Wa ‘alayk as-salaamu wa rahmatullaah. Yes, that’s fine. Children take the name of their father. Think of using the middle name as “Ibn-John”, if you are in a country that uses “middle names”. And Allaah knows best.

  32. My husband name is “Imran Mehmood” and his father,i.e., my father-in law name is “Jaffar Mahmood”. My daughter was named by my father-in-law as “Ameena Jaffar”. I argued that her name should be “Ameena Imran” since “Imran” is her father rather than “Ameena Jaffar” since “Jaffar” is her grandfather. Please guide me in this regard.

  33. As salaamu alaykum, barakaAllah feek, so my parents had be without marriage, and I do have my mothers name sake, so I’m ordered to keep it? JazakaAllah khayr akhi

  34. Brother Moosaa, what if someones father had an impermissle name, like ‘Rahman’? This name is only for Allaah, so how should the son adjust his name?

  35. Salam, Im asma , just got married in my muslim husband, but now i discoverd that he had a daughter from a non muslim woman and they are not married but the daughter is using my husband last name,, is it allowed? Specially if she want to come in his father country using my husband last name in her passport?

  36. Assalamu alaikum
    My name syed Yakub pasha father name sayed Abdul Sattar and grand father name sayed Abdul wahab
    My wife name is shaik.Tahera.I named my son as Abdul Hafeez only.
    If any argument comes in future.Abdul Hafeez write without surname.Abdul is Surname.I write my son name Allah mercifully as Abdul Hafeez.
    Without syed named only Abdul Hafeez no objetion.
    Can Muslims write surname complessory ?.

  37. Assalam alaikum. I read your articles they are such a good ones, and in the path way of the Sunnah. May Allah bless your efforts. I would suggest you add sharing bottom to you site. This will help a lot in conveying the message to so many people. And the real content of your write up will never be distorted. Wassalam alaikum.

  38. As Salaamu alaikum wa Rahmatullaah
    If your name (not the family name) means noble or nobility, is it obligatory to change it ? BaarakAllaahu feek

  39. Asalaamu aleykum waraxmatullahi wabarakatu.

    BarakaAllahu feyk for this beautiful article May Allah reward you with the highest ranks in jannah aameen.

    After reading this article I am really scared and don’t know what to do if this really allowed or not.

    I am in non Muslim countries for a decade and my documents is not same as my father and family name is totally different and I get married and got children walilahi hamd… But they have their names in the documents for the middle and last name of the name in my documents…. Only for the paper but for the Muslim brothers they called me my real name and for at work called me the name I have in the documents…

    So now I don’t know what to do to change this whole process is not easy and don’t know if this permissible or not …

    please reply to me I am falling under that hadeeth from the prophet “…. Forbidden for him the smell of the paradise…”…am I sinning and I made hajj having that name on my documents is my hajj valid please reply to me.

    I came to this country 10 years ago being in this country from young age went to schools…and all my documents fingerprints are under this name…etc.

    May Allah bless you and rewards you with good.

    Asalaamu aleykum.

  40. As Salaamu alaikum wa Rahmatullaah I have a question about if I have to keep my last name or change it due to it being one of the 99 names of Allah (swt) should I change it to slave of the judge instead of it begin the judge. In sha Allah can you give me info this matter. [Message edited by admin]

    • Wa ‘alaykas-salaamu wa rahmatullaah. Your family name is Kadi, which I assume is “قاضي” (judge), yes, people are judges, and there is no violation in this name or as a description. I don’t know of any precedent for calling yourself “Abdul-Qaadhee”, and some of the scholars have mentioned that such a name is not permissible, as al-Qaadhee is not a name of Allaah we can confirm. And Allaah knows best.

      Besides, even if your family name were impermissible, you still keep it, as a historical reference to your ancestors, as our Prophet (sallallaahu ‘alayhe wa sallam) was the grandson of ‘Abdul-Muttalib, and al-Muttalib is a name we do not have evidence to establish as one of Allaah’s Names, and he did not change his grandfather’s name, and he even referred to himself by it. And Allaah knows best.

  41. Assalamualaium

    My husband’s name is Saihad Shahid Rahman.
    As i came to know recently that one should not keep the name Rahman as it belongs to Allah, so we are planning to name our son Uzair Abdur Rahman.

    Is this a good name according to islam. We read that Abdur Rahman is the second best name in islam after Abdullah, but do we need to keep Saihad too in our son’s name?
    For example, Uzair bin Saihad Rahman? But then again the name becomes to long and it removes Abdur Rahman for the name of our son.
    Your advise will be highly appreciated

  42. As salamu alaikom,

    I have would like for you to clarify my name change inshallah. I am a new Muslim and was given the name Muhammad Amin, which I will make legal soon. My father’s name is Aurelio Valencia and my mother’s name is Valencia Valencia. Would it be permissible for me to take the name Muhammed Amin Abdul Rahman ibn Valencia? Or it will have to be Muhammed Amin Abdul Rahman ibn Aurelio Valencia?

    Please help inshallah. Jazakallah khair brother.

    • Wa ‘alayk as-salaamu wa rahmatullaah. My advice is that you pick a name, either Muhammed or Amin, and call yourself:

      Muhammed ibn Aurelio Valencia
      OR
      Amin ibn Aurelio Valencia

      This is closest to the Sunnah, and Allaah knows best.

  43. Salam alaikun.
    I am planning to wed with my wife in july 2016 and we are both yet to conclude on names issue.
    Pls, I will b glad to have ur help on this.
    My first name is Mutiu, Abiodun is my second name, Muritala is my (surname)family’s name. My wife’s name is Elizabeth Oreoluw (surname).
    Can we use my second name, Abiodun as the surname for our Children? Cos I don’t want to use the family name, Muritala for my kids to come. We want to agree on this before we start having kids. And I want to stay in line with islamic naming customs.
    Thankx

    • Wa ‘alayk as-salaamu wa rahmatullaahi. I don’t know what you mean by first and second name. In Islam, we have one name, and this is followed by ibn or bint with our father’s name, like: Muhammad ibn ‘Abdillaah, ‘Abdullaah ibn ‘Abbaas, ‘Umar ibn al-Khattaab, ‘Uthmaan ibn ‘Affaan, ‘Aa’ishah bint Abee Bakr, Zaynab bint Jahsh, like this…

  44. Asalaamu Alaikum Wa Rahmatullahi Wa Barakatuhu, May Allah reward you for this beneficial article and this website ameen!!

    I am curious about the use of ibn/Bint. My children have a middle and last name which is the same as my husband’s first and last name. For example, Sarah John Smith and Amber John Smith. We did not put Bint in their names. Does this sound in accordance with sunnah?

    JazackAllahu khair!

    • Wa ‘alayk as-salaamu wa rahmatullaahi wa barakaatuh. It sounds OK, but in the West, a female having a middle name like “John” might be odd. That’s why I would recommend using “Bint-John” instead, but its just a suggestion for in the West only. In the Muslim lands, they refer to girls all the time like “Faatimah Ahmad”, “Zaynab Moosaa”, etc. using the girl’s father’s name as her second name. And Allaah knows best.

  45. Sallamu ‘alaykum wa rahmatullah.
    JazaakAllâhu khayrā.
    I have a question relating my firstname, I have two of them, Muhammad Masood, Ahmad is my surname and also grandfathers name.
    You said in Islām we have only one name, what do I do now I have been named with two firstnames which is a custom I think in Afghanistan..?
    JazākAllâhu khayrā.

  46. Assalam-o-alikum,
    My name is Shahid Rasool Shaikh. I want to name my son Ali Rasool Shaikh. Is it correct to put Rasool with Ali?
    Please let me know soon.

    • wa ‘alaykas-salaamu wa rahmatullaah. If you name your son Ali, he will be: “Ali ibn Shahid Rasool Shaikh” (But I don’t know about your three names, are they all yours, or one is your father’s? Compound/multiple names are not easy to understand.)

  47. Hello, I’m from Bangladesh. Me and my wife are expecting to have a baby boy by the grace of Allah. We are primarily thinking of keeping his first name as “SAHABI” (companion). But since there is a defined list of sahaba in Islam, we are skeptical whether it is righteous to keep this name for our baby. It would be a great help if you please share your views about this matter. Thank you in advance for your assistance.

  48. I recently named my daughter jannah. A brother told me that this is no permissible
    And I can not think of nor find anything that prohibits this in Islam…..I’m seeking answers from ulema only jazakallah khayr

    • Let the one who forbade you from it show you what it wrong with it, with evidence. A jannah is a garden, it has a beautiful meaning. In general, names with good meanings are allowed, until there is a specific evidence restricting it. And Allaah knows best.

  49. As-salamu alaykum Moosaa. First of all, I’d like to thank you for the very informative knowledge you have posted about why you should keep your family name despite the fact that it can have a haram association with it.

    Secondly, I have a question regarding my last name. My last name is #####, derived from the Sikh religion of Hindustan (present day India). My great grandfather moved from India to Pakistan during the partition in order to be liberated from the continued discrimination towards Muslims in India. He became a muslim and continued with the practice of high last name to my grandfather and my father. Unfortunately, in the 70s when my father registered for his board exams in his government high school, he changed his last name without consulting/telling his own father. Instead of writing ##### as his last name in his exams, he wrote a different one.

    Just for the record, in Pakistan, whatever is written in your board exams is considered your permanent legal name in Pakistan. Meaning whatever name is registered on your board exams must also appear on your passport, id card, legal document, marriage certificate, etc.

    The funny thing is this though; when I was born in the US, my father gave me my grandfather and great grandfather’s name #####, continuing the tradition of last names. When I asked him why he changed his last name, he said he made a mistake.

    I always wanted to change my last name because I didn’t like it and knew it had a kuffar meaning associated with it but after learning from this article that you should keep your last name, I guess I will stick with it. But do I keep my father’s changed name or the continued last names of my great grandfathers and grandfather?

    Thanks!
    As-salamu alaykum

    • Wa ‘alayk as-salaamu wa rahmatullaahi wa barakaatuh. Whatever your father, grandfather, and all known ancestors went by are things that you can you to identify with. What you use on your official paperwork is only one portion of that. I do not think it is even possible to put all lineages and ascriptions in modern paperwork. So use whatever is easy and accurate. And Allaah knows best.

  50. Assalamualaikum,

    If my name is Syed Wajid Ahmed (Syed is family name), then can I give my son name as “Abdullah Syed” ?

    I want to do this to avoid confusion of first, middle and last name. Generally on documents like passport, they consider last name to be the family whereas in names like “Syed Wajid Ahmed”, it is first name “Syed” which is considered the family name

  51. As-salamu alaykum Moosaa . If a baby is conceived and born out of wedlock and the father is a non-Muslim. Must the baby take the mothers name or can he/she take the Father’s name?

  52. As Salam o Alaikum

    Is it ok to do this. If my name is Noman Khan and my fathers name is Ahmed Khan. Can my son name be:

    First Name: Muhammad
    Second/Middle Name: bin Folaan
    Last: Ibn Khan or Bin Ahmed

    Jazak Allahu Khair

  53. If you have a problematic name associated with the Raafidah/Sufiyyah such as (مرتضى), is it permissible to drop it?

  54. Asalamualaikum
    Very beneficial. May Allah reward u immensely.

    My name was fatima aziz, my dad hasan Aziz.

    After marriage I became fatima khan for 20 yrs . When I realised the command of Allah I immediately announced everyone I know that I’m fatima bint Aziz. Is that wrong?

    2. Also is it ok to announce that im Fatima bint aziz but keep my passport/ bank/ bills/ inland revenue etc in my old name fatima khan that I have had for 20 yrs?

    3. What’s the meaning of khan as my children take this as their surname?

    I will be grateful bro for your answers. May Allah accept your efforts.
    Jazakallah khairan katheera

    • Wa ‘alayk as-salaamu wa rahmatullaah.

      1 & 2. What is forbidden is ascribing to other than your father, and it is OK to use a family name. If your family name is Khan, then you can use it, and you do not have to mention your father’s name every time your name is used. You just cannot claim to be the daughter of someone other than your real father. And Allaah knows best.

      3. “Khan” in Arabic means “he betrayed” so it should be avoided, yet if it established as the family name, meaning people have lived and died under this name, then it is not changed. Rather you are from the Khaan family, just like our Messenger (sallallaahu ‘alayhe wa sallam) was from the family of ‘Abdul-Muttalib, while that name was not permissible to have. Since he lived and died under that name, it is historically established then, and we cannot change people’s names after their deaths. So ascriptions to people with impermissible names is allowed. And Allaah knows best.

      • Jazakallahu khairan katheera for your spontaneous response.

        May Allah always protect you and your family and reward you manifold.

        Just to clarify can I keep my husband surname on passport/ doctors/ government documents/ bills as they refer to mrs. Fatima khan?

        On other hand I have announced all those I know my name is now fatima bint Aziz.

        Is this permissible?

        JazakAllah for your time in reading and answering all our questions.

        • It was not clear to me from your original question that “Khan” is your husband’s family name, not yours. His lineage does not become your lineage. His family name does not become your family name, except that it can be said that you are the wife of Fulaan from the Khan family. This practice of the wife taking on the husband’s family name is from Western oppressive culture, from when the men would basically own the wife and all her property, so her taking his name was an indication that she had been sort of “owned into” that family, and Allaah knows best. Many people who know about this origin, I mean non-Muslims, refuse to drop their family names to assume their husband’s family names, and rightly so. And Allaah knows best.

  55. Assalamu alaikum wa rahmatullah. JazakAkkahu khairan for this informative article, however I have some questions :

    1) When I grew up I put my maternal grandfather’s name and surname instead of my father’s. Almost all of my documents have this new name. Do I have to change my name on these documents or it’s ok if I don’t ?

    2) People call me by this new name now so do I have to actively tell them to call me by my father’s name ?

    3) Also my father’s name was Noorali (i.e. light of Ali) as far I know the meaning. That might be considered words of shirk so considering this, do I still have to call myself by my father’s name ? Will I be sinning if I use my father’s name?

    PS – Me and my mother are not deviant anymore as Allah swt Has guided us to the true teachings of Islam, Alhumdulillah. I do not know of my father as I haven’t met him since I was a child. [Message truncated and edited by admin]

    • Wa ‘alayk as-salaamu wa rahmatullaah.

      1) Change your name to reflect your ascription to your father on all documents, whenever possible.

      2) Yes. Ask them to refer to you as “[Your Name] ibn/bint Noorali.” (Your gender is not clear from the question, sorry.)

      3) Your father’s name is still his name, even if his name is impermissible. You still ascribe to him with the name he is known by. Our Prophet (sallallaahu ‘alayhe wa sallam) referred to himself as “Ibn ‘Abdil-Muttalib”, Servant of ‘al-Muttalib’ (not one of Allaah’s Names!)

      PS – Seek Allaah’s Assistance in rebuilding family ties with your father (even if he is a disbeliever), may Allaah grant you success.

  56. Salaam alakuim I was born out of wedlock and adultery. I married halal and reverted to Islam. My mother I had 8 children 6 different fathers. She doesn’t know who my biological father is. I have been using my grandfathers surname an English name. My question is do I keep it or am I able to go by my husbands surname?
    Jazakallah Kheir

    • Wa ‘alayk as-salaamu wa rahmatullaah. Keep your grandfather’s family name. Taking the family name of the husband is a terrible Western practice, left over from when men would assume ownership of the wife and all her property. And Allaah knows best.

  57. When I was born, I was given to my aunt and uncle. In order to avoid paperwork and all, I was listed as their daughter in all paperwork. So I was not given my biological parent’s name. I did not know that I was adopted until I was 13 since we live in another country.

    My father, not biological, is named Muhammad Hassan Chaudhary. When he went abroad he changed his last name making his name Muhammad Hassan.
    I haven taken his name making my name : Aaliyah Hassan.
    All his biological children carry this name as well. So for instance Muhammad Tariq Hassan, is this right?
    My mom, not biological, did not change her surname.

    Nobody knows that I am adopted except family. I actually want to keep this surname but is it permissible?
    And what about my father, is it a problem that he changed his surname?

    I have used different names for privacy purposes.

    • Try to rectify this matter by amending the official paperwork to reflect your true biological parents. Refer to yourself as X (your name), bint (the daughter of) Y (your real father’s name). Likewise all of your children should have this corrected as well. May Allaah bless you and give you success. And Allaah knows best.

  58. Assalamualaikum
    Hope ur doing well.
    Just wanted to confirm with you..
    Is it ok to right in passport as Nisar Ahmad Ibn Ibrahim. Is there anything wrong with compound names?
    Like we have two columns Surname and given name in the passport.
    And for my daughter can I write
    Aleena bint Nisar Ahmad.

    • Wa ‘alayk as-salaamu wa rahmatullaah. Compound names are confusing and should be avoided. Think of the Companions, they weren’t Umar Ahmad, Muhammad Uthmaan, and Alee Abdullaah. They were just Umar, ‘Uthmaan, and Alee. Umar (the son of al-Khattaab), ‘Uthmaan (the son of ‘Affaan), and ‘Alee (the son of Aboo Taalib). When people hear Nisar Ahmad, they genuinely cannot know if you are Nisar the son of Ahmad or just “Nisar Ahmad” as a compound name, both names are you. In fact, the first one is the more likely assumption. And Allaah knows best.

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